What would you need to make your notebook really portable? Exactly, a wireless network card that allows you to roam about the office or even take your notebook outside while still being able to access to network or browse the internet. There’s many different wireless network cards available and we’ve been looking at a number of them featuring the 802.11b wireless protocol. 802.11b features a maximum speed of 11Mbps, which is adequate for most, if not all, office work and internet browsing. It is a rather intelligent protocol that automatically lowers the data rate down to a minimum of 1Mbps in case of a less strong signal. 802.11b works by having a access point setup in the office which is normally connected to a hub which is the common contact point for the wireless network cards. Some also allow you to communicate between the network cards independent of the access point, but this is usually optional.
Fig 6. An Intel PRO/Wireless 2011B wireless network card connected to the notebook’s PCMCIAA slot, no wires, just an antenna sticking out.
We’ve been using Intel’s Wireless Gateway and a number of their PRO/Wireless 2011B wireless network cards for a while and we’ve really grown to like both the Wireless Gateway and the network cards. The Wireless Gateway was powerful enough to allow us to drive around the block and still be able to access the network or browse the internet, although not at the full 11Mbps speed. The wireless network cards proved to be able to work with other access points and 802.11b wireless equipment without any problems, unfortunately the same could not be said about some of the other cards we evaluated. Furthermore the network cards were also able to communicate amongst them independently from the access point, which really adds to their functionality.
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